Climate Change to Prompt Rise in Mental Illness

Severe weather leaves anxiety, depression in its wake: report

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 29, 2011 12:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Continuing climate change could lead to an increase in mental illness—particularly following severe weather events like what we've seen this weekend, according to a new report. Such events can damage social cohesion, the report says, leaving behind increased anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress, the Sydney Morning Herald notes. With up to one in five people reporting “emotional injury, stress and despair” after extreme weather, the last 15 years may have been a “preview of life under unrestrained global warming.”

The paper argues there is a link between global warming and the drought Australia has experienced over the last 10 years. It then reviews the aftermath of these kinds of weather events (for instance, one in 10 young children cited post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms following Cyclone Larry in Australia in 2006) and suggests the link between global warming and mental illness. “While cyclones, drought, bushfires, and floods are all a normal part of Australian life, there is no doubt our climate is changing,” the report notes. “Recent conditions are entirely consistent with the best scientific predictions: as the world warms so the weather becomes wilder, with big consequences for people's health and well-being.”

Residents leave their homes after storms spawned by Cyclone Larry caused widespread flooding around Innisfail, Australia, March 2006.
Residents leave their homes after storms spawned by Cyclone Larry caused widespread flooding around Innisfail, Australia, March 2006.   (Getty Images)
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